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Posts Tagged ‘WRAP’

Unilever partners local council for recycling initiative

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Fast-moving consumer goods giant, Unilever, has announced plans to work in partnership with Torbay Council in a pilot project for mixed plastics recycling. This is the first time Unilever has worked with a council on such a scheme and its decision has been commended by the Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP).

The name behind famous household brands such as Wall’s, Flora, Persil, Dove and Knorr will support the council’s new mixed plastics recycling initiative. From December, the 60,000 households in Torbay will be able to recycle their mixed plastics by adding them to their weekly refuse collection, to be sorted in transit. Materials that previously went to landfill that will now be recycled include margarine tubs, noodle pots and ice cream tubs.

Torbay Council’s Executive Lead with responsibility for waste disposal and recycling, Councillor David Thomas, said, “It is thanks to the fantastic efforts of Torbay residents that we have increased the Bay’s recycling rate to 45 per cent. We are aware they would also like to recycle plastics and other items, and we are really pleased that our joint venture company, TOR21, has been able to find outlets for these items. We are also extremely grateful to Unilever for their support for our latest initiative.”

Commenting on behalf of Unilever, Louis Lindenberg, Global Packaging Sustainability Director, said, “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Unilever. In the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, we made a global commitment to halve our environmental impact by 2020 across the life cycle of our products, incorporating a pledge to increase recycling in countries all around the world, including the UK. This project with Torbay Council is a great example of our commitment in action and our way of helping consumers to do their part for the environment.”

About a million tonnes of non-bottle plastic packaging are disposed of by households each year in the UK. With this new programme, Unilever and Torbay Council are demonstrating how this type of packaging can be collected and recycled effectively into valuable resource streams.

Cameron warns retailers over carrier bags

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has warned retailers to cut the number of plastic bags that they hand out or face new legislation. Although he praised various programmes aimed at reducing the number of bags from retailers in recent years, he also expressed disappointment that some valuable work had been undone in the past year. This fact was highlighted in a recent Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) report, which showed that the number of plastic bags handed out in the UK in 2010 had increased by 6% over the previous year. Mr Cameron said, “That’s unacceptable and we need to do better. I want to see the numbers going in the right direction again.”

He warned that the government might be forced to follow the lead of Eire and Wales, which have introduced a carrier bag levy to tackle the problem. Shoppers in Wales are just getting used to a charge of at least 5p for single use bags, introduced on 1 October.

“I know that retailers want to do better too but if they don’t I will be asking them to explain why not,” said Mr Cameron. “They also need to know that the government has options at its disposal – including legislating as other countries have done. We will continue to look carefully at all options in order to make sure that we further reduce the use of single use plastic bags.”

The Carrier Bag Consortium (CBC) has condemned Mr Cameron’s threats, with a spokesman saying, “In the face of massive economic pressures it is a great shame that the Prime Minister is suggesting taxing the ordinary shopper, particularly when this flies in the face of the evidence from his own Environment Agency, which proves that the lightweight plastic bag is the best environmental choice if re-used – as it is by 76% of households – or recycled.” The CBC added that, despite the small recent increase in bag usage the UK, voluntary agreement has still reduced bag consumption by more than 40%.

WRAP reveals plastics recycling breakthroughs

Monday, September 26th, 2011

WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) has revealed that it could soon be possible to recycle almost all plastic packaging waste from domestic environments. Although over 300,000 tonnes of plastic packaging is collected for recycling each year – including a large number of plastic carrier bags – more than a million tonnes ends up going to landfill sites due to the problems of collecting and recycling films, detecting and sorting black plastics and the lack of high-value markets for non-bottle plastics.

WRAP – which works in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help businesses and individuals reap the benefits of reducing waste – has identified a type of black plastic which, unlike conventional black plastics, can be detected by sorting systems in materials recovery facilities (MRFs). In a series of trials funded by WRAP, methods have also been identified to recycle complex laminated plastics, plastic films and polypropylene (PP) – materials that would typically be destined for landfill.

The tests found that, by using non-carbon pigments in the manufacture of black plastics, it is possible to create a material that is almost identical in colour but which can be identified by the type of optical sorting equipment used in MRFs. This development, WRAP believes, could lead to the widespread recycling of the most common plastic used in packaging into high-value, single-polymer materials.

For complex laminated packaging – as used in toothpaste and cosmetics tubes – another trial has found a way to recover the layer of high-value aluminium that is sandwiched between plastics. WRAP estimates that the 140,000 tonnes of this laminated packaging in the UK waste stream has an aluminium content of around 13,500 tonnes.

A further trial has resulted in a technique that could recycle post-consumer PP back in to material suitable for food-grade applications. Further work is required, but WRAP believes this development could help to grow high-value markets for recycled PP. It could also result in significant environmental benefits as retailers begin to use it in their packaging.

Interestingly, a method has also been developed that cleans and recycles contaminated film, producing a pellet with a sales value of £400 to £500 per tonne. The cost of sending this material to landfill is currently around £80 per tonne, so WRAP says the advantages of recycling this material are clear.

Commented Marcus Gover, Director of Closed Loop Economy at WRAP, “When we first looked at recycling non-bottle plastic packaging back in 2007, we carried out detailed studies to make sure it would be technically and economical viable. We also carried out a thorough life-cycle assessment to make sure it was the best environmental option. We’re now seeing this recycling becoming a reality, creating jobs and re-invigorating the manufacturing industry in the UK, reducing our reliance on exports.” He continued, “There have been, and there are still, barriers to overcome and WRAP will continue to work closely with the industry to develop these new methods and technologies so that, in the future, local authorities can offer their residents a way of recycling even more of their plastic packaging.”

First UK recycling plant for mixed plastics opens

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Biffa Polymers has opened the country’s first fully integrated sorting and recycling facility for mixed plastic packaging in Redcar, Middlesbrough. Brought about with help of a 1.2 million grant from the government-backed WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), the new plant will create 28 jobs in the local area. The facility will begin the processing of 15,000 tonnes of mixed plastics per year from next month, ramping up to its full 20,000 tonnes per annum capacity after the first year.

The plant will process plastics from Biffa’s material recycling facilities, in addition to waste from local authorities and commercial clients in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

After sorting by polymer type and colour, the plastics are processed to produce a high-quality output that is suitable for a broad range of applications. A proportion of the plant’s output will be processed through Biffa’s food-grade HDPE recycling facility – located on the same site – and be used in the manufacture of new milk cartons. Biffa Polymers was the first company in the UK to produce food-grade recycled HDPE plastic.

This move is just one of a number of recent initiatives that are helping to make plastic packaging – including plastic carrier bags – a more sustainable option.

Loan fund set to boost plastics recycling

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

On Tuesday of this week, WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) launched a mixed plastics loan fund worth £2 million to boost reprocessing of plastics waste in the UK. The measure is aimed at increasing the recycling of everyday items such as yoghurt pots, margarine tubs and food trays. This move could help to raise the profile of non-woven carrier bags, which are manufactured from recovered PET (polyethylene terephthalate) – typically, plastic bottles.

Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its loan fund will provide valuable capital support to investors in mixed plastics reprocessing plants across the country. This comes at a time when the market price for recovered PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is at a record high. Despite this, 90% of mixed plastics in our UK waste are still going to landfill.

Marcus Gover, Director of Market Development for WRAP, commented, “A reduction in available capital brought on by the current economic climate, together with recent market price volatility in recovered materials has meant that the risk-reward balance is still a barrier to private sector investment in mixed plastics recycling in the UK. By establishing a loan fund, as opposed to offering a capital grant, investors can pay back the money after they start making a profit and WRAP can re-invest those funds into more support for the mixed plastics market.”

UK householders dispose of 1.7 million tonnes of mixed plastics every year and it is estimated that only 20,000 tonnes of this is diverted from landfill. Paul Davidson, Plastics Sector Specialist for WRAP, believes that PET recycling could be worth up to £500 million a year to the UK economy. “At the moment the UK exports all of its recovered non-bottle plastics, mostly to China,” he said. “If we closed the loop through increased collections and reprocessing of mixed plastics, the economic benefits could be startling.”

Figures just released by Petcore (PET containers recycling Europe, a non-profit trade association based in Brussels) show that European post-sorting PET collection reached 1.4 million tonnes in 2009, an increase of more than 8% on 2008. The overall collection rate in 2009 rose by almost 2.5% – from 46% to 48.4% – of all PET bottles on the market.

It is estimated that there is a total mechanical reclamation capacity in Europe of 1.6 million tonnes. This provides the impetus for the industry to increase the current collection rate beyond 50%. Exports to the Far East fell slightly to 16% of collected PET and 67,000 tonnes of baled PET bottles were imported from outside the area. Of the collected bales that are reprocessed in Europe, only 75% is usable PET – the remainder consists of caps, labels, residues, foreign materials and other polymers. Interestingly, the continuing programme of bottle weight reduction results in caps and labels forming a greater proportion by weight of the collected PET.

Commented Roberto Bertaggia, Chairman of the Petcore Board, “I should like to congratulate members of the PET industry chain who have worked with Collection Agencies, National Bodies and European Recyclers to increase the collection rate to nearly 50% of all PET bottles placed on the market. For the collection of PET bottles in Europe to increase by more than 8% in such difficult economic circumstances is a real achievement.”